‘Si ya,’ the door was gently pushed open from the outside. The bridesmaid was the first to enter the chamber. She giggled as she spoke words of blessing which sounded very much like a stream of flowing water. Behind the bridesmaid were the bridegroom and the servants.
“That’s enough. The rest of you may leave,” Shi Fengju interrupted the bridesmaid suddenly. The heartwarming auspicious words stopped abruptly.
Sang Wan remained motionless, but behind the veil, she blinked a few times. His voice was as smooth as ever, yet empty to the extreme. She could even imagine his facial expression as he spoke; his face and his expression must have been even duller.
“Uh. Yes…” The bridesmaid was the most famous matchmaker in Qingzhou, known as Matchmaker Zhang. She had seen many relationships between men and women in villages all around the city. No relationships formed around the city could escape her ears. Even the indecent relationship between Sang Wan’s husband and his cousin, Gu Fangzi, was not news to her.
If only her father had not arranged this marriage when he was still alive… If only canceling the marriage between her and the Shi family’s eldest son was simple… She wouldn’t have needed to be in the position she currently was in!
Even though she was able to become part of the Shi family and take the position as Shi Fengju’s wife, it seemed that her position was not as secure as one may think.
The bridesmaid gave a wink and pouted a few times to signal the servants. Together with Liu Ya and the rest of the servants, the bridesmaid left the chamber.
The door was closed gently and the huge room fell into silence. The atmosphere within the room became somewhat depressing.
Having always lived in an environment where the world revolved around him, Shi Fengju’s already gloomy feeling became gloomier. The color red was supposed to be bright and warm, but right now, it somehow brought him a deeper sense of depression.
True enough, a person’s state of mind brought about differences in one’s perception.
His gaze swept over the big red Double Happiness word ‘囍’ (TLN: 囍means joy) scattered with gold powder, and the dragon and phoenix wedding candle that was previously lit. His eyes suddenly darkened and he entered a trance.
Let’s get this over and done with! Shi Fengju sighed secretly to dissipate all of the unpleasant emotions within him. Since I agreed to marry this Sang missy into my family, as long as she is not someone who is untrustworthy, she will remain as my wife! My dear cousin, Fang’er, said she understands my predicament. I’m sure she does. I’ll not disappoint her, my Fang’er.
Shi Fengju subconsciously rubbed his hands together as he steadily approached the bride. He pinched the two edges of the veil with his hands and slowly lifted it up, revealing the coronet. The jade pearls on the coronet shook a little as the woman wearing the coronet gently raised her head.
A pair of crystal clear eyes stared deeply into his eyes.
Such crystal clear eyes! Such magnificence! The gentle blink of her eyelashes was simply breathtaking.
Shi Fengju was taken aback, but in a brief moment, his eyes returned to their usual calm state.
Sang Wan observed him as he silently turned to the table beside him to pour the two small cups of wine that were used to perform the cross-cupped wine rite. He handed a cup to Sang Wan and held the other in his own hand.
“After finishing the cup of wine, the rite will be completed. It is very late now. Let’s call it a day,” Shi Fengju said calmly. After saying so, he tilted his neck upwards and finished the wine in his cup.
Sang Wan stared at him and could not help but wonder if it was magic. It was just like in her past life; he had drunk from the cup without performing the cross-cupped wine rite, and then…
Had he never thought that she might be hungry from not eating much today?
Of course, that thought surfaced in Sang Wan’s mind not because she wanted to do the cross-cupped wine rite, but because she felt injustice and grievance as a bride.
“Are you… not drinking it?” Shi Fengju placed his empty cup on the table, and then turned around and walked towards Sang Wan to engage in activities that married couples usually do, only to see her hand still holding a cup full of wine.
Deep inside, he started to feel impatient. He couldn’t help but knit his eyebrows. What is she doing?
Sang Wan glanced at Shi Fengju, and then simply placed the cup of wine gently beside her.
“You!” Shocked, Shi Fengju questioned her coldly. “What is the meaning of this?”
Sang Wan stood up. She folded her sleeves and genuflected (TLN: genuflect means to lower one’s body briefly to show respect) before lifting up her head to gaze directly at Shi Fengju. She went straight to the point, “You have someone else you like. The person whom you want to marry is not me but someone else. Am I right?”
Shi Fengju did not expect her to say that. It was all too sudden! The first thing that came to his mind was that maybe he had heard her wrong. Thankfully. his business personality helped kept him calm. Having recovered from the shock, he asked softly, “What, exactly, would you like to tell me?”
Sang Wan lowered her head slightly, exposing her slender white neck, before she looked at him again and said, “You have complied with the marriage and saved my Sang family’s reputation. I am grateful for that. However, you have already given your heart to someone else, thus I do not wish to steal you away from her. Why don’t we become a fake couple? What do you think?”
Shi Fengju could not help but be visibly moved and he heaved a sigh of relief as the burden on his shoulders was finally lifted. His eyes flashed with brilliance, unlike the lifeless eyes he had had previously. Become a fake couple? She had the nerve to even think of such a thing, let alone say it out loud!
Seeing Shi Fengju remain silent, she continued, “Since the two of us are incompatible, we can divorce after a year or so and you can then marry the woman who’s in your heart. How about it?” Shi Fengju continued to remain silent, which made her feel a little uneasy.
Him not loving her was a matter, but her initiating the divorce was another. A man as handsome as himself with such a wealthy background was the perfect husband that many women yearned for… Yet, this lady in front of him told him upfront that she wanted to divorce. Shi Fengju felt a little offended.
He could not help but scrutinize the woman in front of him. Gentle facial features with five healthy senses (TLN: the ears, eyes, lips, nose and tongue), fair skin, large and bright eyes. The eyes… crystal clear, which made them particularly noticeable. The woman in front of him looked calm and indifferent, not servile nor overbearing. Those two points alone impressed him.
However, they also offended him a little.
“Why? Can’t wait to leave the Shi family? Is there someone else waiting for you?” Shi Fengju impulsively blurted out.
This time, it was Sang Wan’s turn to feel offended. If his words got out and spread across the city, her own family name would be ruined. She would be too embarrassed to meet the people!
“If that were the case, would I still have married into the Shi family?” Sang Wan scorned, while trying to contain the anger in her heart. If what he said was true and the Shi family had still let her marry into his family, the Sang family would be deemed shameless!
Actually, Shi Fengju regretted his words deeply when he blurted that. He knew those words were actually meant for himself, but he ended up venting his frustrations on her. If Sang Wan was prone to indiscretion, his family would have known…no… he himself would have known!
“My apologies. I said that without thinking and offended you.” Shi Fengju bowed to show his sincerity as he apologized to Sang Wan. Shi Fengju had always been a gentleman, thus, apologizing when he was wrong wasn’t a difficult task for him.
“It’s alright. Your words were unintentional,” Sang Wan said softly and returned a curtsy. Arguing to identify who was at fault in this conversation would have been a foolish idea anyway.
“Let’s do as you said. After a year or so, we’ll divorce.” Shi Fengju agreed.
“It is not like the Shi family forced me into marriage; it was just an agreement made between two families. A newly married couple getting a divorce is unheard of. After a year or so, a reasonable reason for getting a divorce can be used, and we’ll both be happy… After a year or so…”
“Don’t worry. The Shi family will not treat you ill. I’ll ensure that you live comfortably with food and necessities available whenever you need them for the rest of your life.” Shi Fengju generously added.
The Shi family was very wealthy. Giving her this generous reward for coming out with such a brilliant idea wasn’t too much of a problem. If she ever wanted to get married in the future, having such a large dowry would also help to increase her chances.
“Thank you very much for your generosity.” Sang Wan once again curtsied and thanked Shi Fengju sincerely. Since Shi Fengju had said that he would give a dowry, it would definitely be a large sum. With that sum of money, her path ahead was safeguarded.
“Let me summarize what we just discussed. In the coming year, the secret of us being a false couple will only be known between us, right?” Sang Wan gazed at Shi Fengju, expecting an answer.
“Of course!” Shi Fengju nodded. If word got out, not only would Sang Wan’s reputation be tarnished, even his would be! Of course, no one else could know the secret.
Then he prompted, “Do you have anything else to add?” He could see that she had something to say but was very hesitant.
Pacing back and forth, Sang Wan finally answered, “Well, I do have a presumptuous request. It is about Miss Gu… Even though we’ll be spending about a year together before we divorce, I do hope you’ll wait until I leave before marrying Miss Gu.”
Shi Fengju was taken aback and stared at San Wang blankly.
Sang Wan herself was also taken aback, and her face turned red with embarrassment. Why did I say that? Sang Wan thought to her inner self.
Putting a silly smile on her face, she apologized, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I must be muddleheaded for saying such a thing.”
The reason she had burst out about Miss Gu was because of her experience in her past life. Firstly, if Gu Fangzi were to marry into the Shi family, what would become of Sang Wan’s status? Secondly, she didn’t want to have any further contact with Miss Gu. Therefore, it would be best if Miss Gu only married into the Shi family after she left.
Shi Fengju was thinking about something else even more intensely. Since Sang Wan has already stated that she’ll divorce me after a year, of course I’d wait until we got divorced before marrying Fangzi! How can I let my sweetheart become a concubine? Just a year… I can wait that long.
Seeing that Sang Wan was feeling very embarrassed, he didn’t question her any further but stared at her suspiciously for a moment.
The problem with regards to the marriage was finally concluded. The burden on his shoulder was lifted and he couldn’t help but feel a lot more relaxed. Drowsy, he covered his mouth as he yawned. “The day is not young anymore. Let’s call it a day. You sleep here on the bed and I’ll sleep on the floor.”
After saying that, he took a blanket from the cabinet.
Finally, a little conscientiousness displayed by him by not letting her sleep on the floor. However…
Sang Wan rubbed her stomach. She was feeling hungry.
“Please rest first. My stomach is hungry so I’ll go out and grab a bite.”
His whole body stiffened where it lay on the floor, and his mouth moved awkwardly. “Sure. Do as you please.” Even though he was a conscientious person, he had not bothered to think about why she was hungry at such an hour.
At the same time, Sang Wan thought to herself, Why was I so naïve as to have suffered because of him in the past?